Billy Bob Thornton Discusses Fargo on FX

Fargo_CL_3052_1

(PCM) Loosely based on the theme characters and humor of the 1996 film “Fargo“, FX is presenting a 10 episode all-new story beginning April 15. Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, who wrote and directed the film, are executive producers for the limited series, written by Noah Hawley.

Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo, a rootless, manipulative drifter who meets and forever changes the life of small town insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, played by Martin Freeman.

With over 60 roles on the big screen, I wanted to know if there was anything that he, through his characters, surprised himself. ” Oh, gosh, when you get my age there’s not much you’re surprised about. With this character it was really, because he doesn’t have a conscience and because I’m not thinking about a back story here, it didn’t cause me to learn a whole lot about myself.”

“It did make me know that I can do that. I was capable of going in there and like erasing any sort of like human feelings that I might have about a situation. That was an interesting challenge, but it was written that way so I just tried to stick to Noah’s thing, you know, his vision. But a lot of times as an actor you’re trying to think constantly and in this case I was trying not to, so that was a little bit the opposite and so I guess I learned that I could do that.” He laughing added, “I also learned that when you get in your 50s, that 42 below zero feels much worse than when you’re in your 30s.”

The set was cold. “It was really just bone chillingly cold,” he told me, “and I have to say about that… I would work a couple of weeks or 10 days and then get to go home for five or six days and then come back. And, I’m going to L.A., right. And you go back down there and it’s 75 degrees or whatever and mild. And it just so happened that every time I was off Calgary got good weather and it warmed up.”

Fargo_CL_2509_2Not being an exceptionally big guy, we wondered how approached the role of essentially a bully. “When you weigh 135 pounds and you’re telling people who are six-four, 250 to get out of your way, how do you do that? Well, a lot of that is exactly what you said, which is in the eyes. If someone is talking to you and tells you that you ought to do something and you can tell they mean it, those are the scary people,” he went on, “And I worked in a prison years and years ago on a movie and I was told by these guys, there were all these guys with the Aryan Brotherhood and some of them had tattoos and they’re big, muscled guys and everything and this one guy told me, he said, ‘Do you see that little skinny guy over there in the corner, the one that’s not talking, just kind of sits by himself? That’s the big guy right there.’
He said, “That’s the guy you don’t want to mess with.”

“And I talked to the guy ultimately and I could tell that he meant what he said. So, those are the people you want to watch out for. And it’s like maybe I can break this guy in half, but he would hunt me down, he would crawl until his fingers were bloody on the asphalt to get me. So, those are the ones.”

There is a subtlety to the character. “I look at Malvo as a type of sort of snake charmer, you know. Once he looks at you you’re under some sort of spell.”

Regarding Noah Hawley’s script, compared to the story-telling and characters of the Coen brothers, “That’s something that he has in common with the Coen Brothers, actually. Their scripts are very tightly written and if you don’t say those words the way they’re written, it doesn’t come across as well. I’ve been largely an improvisational kind of actor most of my career, except for when I’ve worked with the Coen Brothers. Now that I’m working with Noah, I rarely change anything with Noah because it’s a very specific point of view and type of language and maybe sometimes something might sound a little formal even, even that Malvo says, maybe it’s not something that would just naturally come out of my mouth.”

“But once you plug into that, then it becomes natural to you and I respect him as a writer so much that I defer to him and I think I would say the same thing about the rest of the cast. I mean, there’s very little discussion on the set about changing things. We don’t come over to him and say, hey, instead of this, I think I’ll say this. We don’t have a lot of that around that set. And the same experience, like I said, with the Coen Brothers. You just do it because there was a reason he wrote it that way and it becomes clear to you when you see it and when you perform it.”

Bily Bob Thornton is known for portraying a likable ‘bad guy’ – is there something about that type of role that he is attracted to? “Well, actually, that’s kind of been my wheelhouse is either sort of intense characters, but who have a certain sympathetic streak and also a sense of humor. And I’ll have 10-year-olds come up to me and say, ‘Oh, Bad Santa, I just love you.’ It’s like, what? So, yeah, I don’t know what it is, but maybe it’s that Malvo senses weakness in people or stupidity or whatever. ”

“(Malvo’s) got this sort of animal instinct and he just smells people out and I think a lot of times, especially these days and times when the world is going kind of crazy, I think we’re all frustrated and want to just shake people a little bit. And so maybe through Malvo you get a chance to slap somebody around a little bit, I don’t know. Maybe that’s it.”

“But one way or the other, yeah, it is a fine balance. You’ve got to be menacing, but I look at Malvo’s sense of humor as his only recreation. I mean, it’s like for “Malvo” to mess with people the way he does, which he doesn’t have to, he could just leave or just use them for whatever he’s using them for, but he still has to mess with them some. And I think for him, that’s his recreation. It’s his only social contact and so, screwing with people for Malvo is kind of like jet skiing for most people.”

Fargo_CL_0542_2The antoginist is alwas the driving force behind a story, and Lorne Malvo is about as antagonistic as you get. What brought Malvo to life for Billy Bob? “Well, you know, usually when you’re playing a character you think a lot about their back story and that kind of thing and in this instance I didn’t want to do that because I doubt ‘Malvo’ thinks much about his past anyway, so even the character, the guy himself, probably wouldn’t think much about it.”

Regarding how the character came across in the script, ” It was so well written that I didn’t have to really do much in order to portray the character. I think what really attracted me to it was not as much that he didn’t have a conscience as he has this bizarre sense of humor where he likes to mess with people, where most criminals if they go in to rob, say, a clothing store or something they go get the money and they get out of there.”

“But “Malvo” would look at their sweater and say, why are you wearing that sweater? I mean, you work in a clothing store. Look at all those nice sweaters over there. You look like a bag person. And so, it’s just a very odd thing. It’s sort of in keeping with the tone of the Coen Brothers to have a character like that. But Noah managed to walk a tightrope with this thing and he does a great job. I mean, he captured the tone of the Coen Brothers and kept the spirit of their movie, and yet made it its own animal, which is a pretty tough job.”

In a snapshot, BBT just said that Malvo “Was so clearly drawn and I just had to kind of be there. I looked at ‘Malvo’ as a guy who is a member of the animal kingdom, you know. We don’t get mad at polar bears, they’re all white and fluffy and they do Coke commercials with them at Christmastime and stuff like that, and yet they’re one of the meanest, most ruthless predators on earth. And so, Malvo probably doesn’t think of himself that way. He just thinks of the moment and how do I get the job done?”

Best known for films, he had an interesting insight about bringing this to the small screen. “Well, the fact of the matter is we have to face this, that Baby Boomers, in particular, really have to look to television now, not only the performers and the writers and everything, but the audience. People over 40-something, they grew up in the heyday of the great movies of the 50s, 60s and 70s and we had a little drought in the 80s here, and then the early 90s through like the late 90s was a real great time and we thought it was a Renaissance. And what we didn’t realize was that it was going to be so short. We thought it would last a couple of decades. And television now, like when I was coming up it was a bad word. And now, it has a cache and actors are clamoring to go on television because it’s a place that we can do the things we were doing in movies.”

“There’s a spot that television is filling that the movie business is not, which is the medium budget studio movies, the $25 million, $30 million adult dramas or adult comedies and the higher budget independent films, the $10 million, $12 million independent films. And you can still make a great independent film, but you’re not guaranteed anybody will ever see it because nobody takes that much interest in putting it out, you know putting money into distributing it. So, they want to put 10 movie stars in a $3 million movie so they can cover their asses on the foreign sales and all that kind of stuff and there’s more freedom in television because in an independent film even or a studio film, you can do a movie about heroin smugglers, but you can’t smoke. Wait a minute, you can sell heroin, but you can’t smoke? I don’t understand that.”

“On TV you have even more creative freedom now. And I think part of that is censorship has loosened up over the years and now you have sex and violence and language and stuff on TV. So, all those things that made us not want to do television when I was coming up in the 80s are gone.”

“On TV you have even more creative freedom now. And I think part of that is censorship has loosened up over the years and now you have sex and violence and language and stuff on TV. So, all those things that made us not want to do television when I was coming up in the 80s are gone. And so there’s no reason not to and I have to face it, that’s my audience now and all the guys my age, the ones, all of us that came up together, a lot of us even born the same year, Costner and Bill Paxton and Dennis Quaid and Kevin Bacon; our audience watches television and I think The Sopranos I guess kicked it off. That’s when we all started thinking, hey, wait a minute. This is the place to be and shows like The Wire and things like that. And you can do terrific work in television now and have a lot of freedom and there are independent films that pop through every now and then and there are some good studio movies that come through every now and then. But it’s the exception rather than the rule now.”

FargoS1vertnotuneinAAnother advantage to a television mini-series is the amount of time a character can be developed.”It felt like doing a 10-hour independent film. That’s very appealing. I’ve been accused many times as a writer/director of my pace is too leisurely and it’s too long and stuff like that. Here’s a chance to do that kind of thing and you’ve got 10 hours to do it in. Actually, it feels great and there’s great appeal in that for actors, writers and maybe not so much directors because the directing world in television is more, those guys just come in and do a couple of episodes and they’re gone.”

“But for the creator or writer it’s a really great thing to be able to develop characters and develop stories. We would all like to make at least a three-hour movie, but here you get a chance to do a 10-hour. But also, this doesn’t mean that I’m giving up doing movies. So, I can do this, do 10 episodes and it’s over and then still do two movies that year. It’s very appealing in that sense and I’m sure that came into play with McConaughey and Woody when they did True Detective. It’s a way to do both. If you came up as a film actor you don’t have to give it up. You can do great work in television and then on the occasion that you get a movie that you really love you can still do it.”

“I had no desire to get involved in a TV series that was going to last six or seven years. I’m not saying I wouldn’t, but that wasn’t really what I was looking for. When I was offered this, it seemed perfect to me. So, there’s a great appeal in it and I think you’ll see more and more of it. I’m even thinking that way now. It’s like some of these movies that I can’t get made, like if I walked in a studio and pitched this movie that I want to do, they laugh you out of the room. It’s like, are you kidding me? You can’t sell bubble gum and toys with that. And I’m thinking, well, you know what, maybe there’s a way to do this movie as a three-hour, or not three-hour, but a three part thing like, for instance, Costner did with the Hatfields & McCoys.”

The post Billy Bob Thornton Discusses Fargo on FX also appeared on Television News.

Billy Bob Thornton Discusses Fargo on FX

Fargo_CL_3052_1

(PCM) Loosely based on the theme characters and humor of the 1996 film “Fargo“, FX is presenting a 10 episode all-new story beginning April 15. Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, who wrote and directed the film, are executive producers for the limited series, written by Noah Hawley.

Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo, a rootless, manipulative drifter who meets and forever changes the life of small town insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, played by Martin Freeman.

With over 60 roles on the big screen, I wanted to know if there was anything that he, through his characters, surprised himself. ” Oh, gosh, when you get my age there’s not much you’re surprised about. With this character it was really, because he doesn’t have a conscience and because I’m not thinking about a back story here, it didn’t cause me to learn a whole lot about myself.”

“It did make me know that I can do that. I was capable of going in there and like erasing any sort of like human feelings that I might have about a situation. That was an interesting challenge, but it was written that way so I just tried to stick to Noah’s thing, you know, his vision. But a lot of times as an actor you’re trying to think constantly and in this case I was trying not to, so that was a little bit the opposite and so I guess I learned that I could do that.” He laughing added, “I also learned that when you get in your 50s, that 42 below zero feels much worse than when you’re in your 30s.”

The set was cold. “It was really just bone chillingly cold,” he told me, “and I have to say about that… I would work a couple of weeks or 10 days and then get to go home for five or six days and then come back. And, I’m going to L.A., right. And you go back down there and it’s 75 degrees or whatever and mild. And it just so happened that every time I was off Calgary got good weather and it warmed up.”

Fargo_CL_2509_2Not being an exceptionally big guy, we wondered how approached the role of essentially a bully. “When you weigh 135 pounds and you’re telling people who are six-four, 250 to get out of your way, how do you do that? Well, a lot of that is exactly what you said, which is in the eyes. If someone is talking to you and tells you that you ought to do something and you can tell they mean it, those are the scary people,” he went on, “And I worked in a prison years and years ago on a movie and I was told by these guys, there were all these guys with the Aryan Brotherhood and some of them had tattoos and they’re big, muscled guys and everything and this one guy told me, he said, ‘Do you see that little skinny guy over there in the corner, the one that’s not talking, just kind of sits by himself? That’s the big guy right there.’
He said, “That’s the guy you don’t want to mess with.”

“And I talked to the guy ultimately and I could tell that he meant what he said. So, those are the people you want to watch out for. And it’s like maybe I can break this guy in half, but he would hunt me down, he would crawl until his fingers were bloody on the asphalt to get me. So, those are the ones.”

There is a subtlety to the character. “I look at Malvo as a type of sort of snake charmer, you know. Once he looks at you you’re under some sort of spell.”

Regarding Noah Hawley’s script, compared to the story-telling and characters of the Coen brothers, “That’s something that he has in common with the Coen Brothers, actually. Their scripts are very tightly written and if you don’t say those words the way they’re written, it doesn’t come across as well. I’ve been largely an improvisational kind of actor most of my career, except for when I’ve worked with the Coen Brothers. Now that I’m working with Noah, I rarely change anything with Noah because it’s a very specific point of view and type of language and maybe sometimes something might sound a little formal even, even that Malvo says, maybe it’s not something that would just naturally come out of my mouth.”

“But once you plug into that, then it becomes natural to you and I respect him as a writer so much that I defer to him and I think I would say the same thing about the rest of the cast. I mean, there’s very little discussion on the set about changing things. We don’t come over to him and say, hey, instead of this, I think I’ll say this. We don’t have a lot of that around that set. And the same experience, like I said, with the Coen Brothers. You just do it because there was a reason he wrote it that way and it becomes clear to you when you see it and when you perform it.”

Bily Bob Thornton is known for portraying a likable ‘bad guy’ – is there something about that type of role that he is attracted to? “Well, actually, that’s kind of been my wheelhouse is either sort of intense characters, but who have a certain sympathetic streak and also a sense of humor. And I’ll have 10-year-olds come up to me and say, ‘Oh, Bad Santa, I just love you.’ It’s like, what? So, yeah, I don’t know what it is, but maybe it’s that Malvo senses weakness in people or stupidity or whatever. ”

“(Malvo’s) got this sort of animal instinct and he just smells people out and I think a lot of times, especially these days and times when the world is going kind of crazy, I think we’re all frustrated and want to just shake people a little bit. And so maybe through Malvo you get a chance to slap somebody around a little bit, I don’t know. Maybe that’s it.”

“But one way or the other, yeah, it is a fine balance. You’ve got to be menacing, but I look at Malvo’s sense of humor as his only recreation. I mean, it’s like for “Malvo” to mess with people the way he does, which he doesn’t have to, he could just leave or just use them for whatever he’s using them for, but he still has to mess with them some. And I think for him, that’s his recreation. It’s his only social contact and so, screwing with people for Malvo is kind of like jet skiing for most people.”

Fargo_CL_0542_2The antoginist is alwas the driving force behind a story, and Lorne Malvo is about as antagonistic as you get. What brought Malvo to life for Billy Bob? “Well, you know, usually when you’re playing a character you think a lot about their back story and that kind of thing and in this instance I didn’t want to do that because I doubt ‘Malvo’ thinks much about his past anyway, so even the character, the guy himself, probably wouldn’t think much about it.”

Regarding how the character came across in the script, ” It was so well written that I didn’t have to really do much in order to portray the character. I think what really attracted me to it was not as much that he didn’t have a conscience as he has this bizarre sense of humor where he likes to mess with people, where most criminals if they go in to rob, say, a clothing store or something they go get the money and they get out of there.”

“But “Malvo” would look at their sweater and say, why are you wearing that sweater? I mean, you work in a clothing store. Look at all those nice sweaters over there. You look like a bag person. And so, it’s just a very odd thing. It’s sort of in keeping with the tone of the Coen Brothers to have a character like that. But Noah managed to walk a tightrope with this thing and he does a great job. I mean, he captured the tone of the Coen Brothers and kept the spirit of their movie, and yet made it its own animal, which is a pretty tough job.”

In a snapshot, BBT just said that Malvo “Was so clearly drawn and I just had to kind of be there. I looked at ‘Malvo’ as a guy who is a member of the animal kingdom, you know. We don’t get mad at polar bears, they’re all white and fluffy and they do Coke commercials with them at Christmastime and stuff like that, and yet they’re one of the meanest, most ruthless predators on earth. And so, Malvo probably doesn’t think of himself that way. He just thinks of the moment and how do I get the job done?”

Best known for films, he had an interesting insight about bringing this to the small screen. “Well, the fact of the matter is we have to face this, that Baby Boomers, in particular, really have to look to television now, not only the performers and the writers and everything, but the audience. People over 40-something, they grew up in the heyday of the great movies of the 50s, 60s and 70s and we had a little drought in the 80s here, and then the early 90s through like the late 90s was a real great time and we thought it was a Renaissance. And what we didn’t realize was that it was going to be so short. We thought it would last a couple of decades. And television now, like when I was coming up it was a bad word. And now, it has a cache and actors are clamoring to go on television because it’s a place that we can do the things we were doing in movies.”

“There’s a spot that television is filling that the movie business is not, which is the medium budget studio movies, the $25 million, $30 million adult dramas or adult comedies and the higher budget independent films, the $10 million, $12 million independent films. And you can still make a great independent film, but you’re not guaranteed anybody will ever see it because nobody takes that much interest in putting it out, you know putting money into distributing it. So, they want to put 10 movie stars in a $3 million movie so they can cover their asses on the foreign sales and all that kind of stuff and there’s more freedom in television because in an independent film even or a studio film, you can do a movie about heroin smugglers, but you can’t smoke. Wait a minute, you can sell heroin, but you can’t smoke? I don’t understand that.”

“On TV you have even more creative freedom now. And I think part of that is censorship has loosened up over the years and now you have sex and violence and language and stuff on TV. So, all those things that made us not want to do television when I was coming up in the 80s are gone.”

“On TV you have even more creative freedom now. And I think part of that is censorship has loosened up over the years and now you have sex and violence and language and stuff on TV. So, all those things that made us not want to do television when I was coming up in the 80s are gone. And so there’s no reason not to and I have to face it, that’s my audience now and all the guys my age, the ones, all of us that came up together, a lot of us even born the same year, Costner and Bill Paxton and Dennis Quaid and Kevin Bacon; our audience watches television and I think The Sopranos I guess kicked it off. That’s when we all started thinking, hey, wait a minute. This is the place to be and shows like The Wire and things like that. And you can do terrific work in television now and have a lot of freedom and there are independent films that pop through every now and then and there are some good studio movies that come through every now and then. But it’s the exception rather than the rule now.”

FargoS1vertnotuneinAAnother advantage to a television mini-series is the amount of time a character can be developed.”It felt like doing a 10-hour independent film. That’s very appealing. I’ve been accused many times as a writer/director of my pace is too leisurely and it’s too long and stuff like that. Here’s a chance to do that kind of thing and you’ve got 10 hours to do it in. Actually, it feels great and there’s great appeal in that for actors, writers and maybe not so much directors because the directing world in television is more, those guys just come in and do a couple of episodes and they’re gone.”

“But for the creator or writer it’s a really great thing to be able to develop characters and develop stories. We would all like to make at least a three-hour movie, but here you get a chance to do a 10-hour. But also, this doesn’t mean that I’m giving up doing movies. So, I can do this, do 10 episodes and it’s over and then still do two movies that year. It’s very appealing in that sense and I’m sure that came into play with McConaughey and Woody when they did True Detective. It’s a way to do both. If you came up as a film actor you don’t have to give it up. You can do great work in television and then on the occasion that you get a movie that you really love you can still do it.”

“I had no desire to get involved in a TV series that was going to last six or seven years. I’m not saying I wouldn’t, but that wasn’t really what I was looking for. When I was offered this, it seemed perfect to me. So, there’s a great appeal in it and I think you’ll see more and more of it. I’m even thinking that way now. It’s like some of these movies that I can’t get made, like if I walked in a studio and pitched this movie that I want to do, they laugh you out of the room. It’s like, are you kidding me? You can’t sell bubble gum and toys with that. And I’m thinking, well, you know what, maybe there’s a way to do this movie as a three-hour, or not three-hour, but a three part thing like, for instance, Costner did with the Hatfields & McCoys.”

The post Billy Bob Thornton Discusses Fargo on FX also appeared on Television News.

Actor Michael Chiklis To Play A Role In American Horror Story: Freak Show

michael_chiklis(PCM) The cast and creators of the FX hit series American Horror Story recently attended PaleyFest last night and provided us with some additional information about the upcoming fourth season “Freak Show”.

It was revealed that ” The Shield” actor Michael Chiklis will be joining the cast this season, as he made a surprise appearance during the show’s PaleyFest panel. It has been revealed that season four of American Horror Story will again star Jessica Lange and will be set in a 1950′s Jupiter, FL, with Lange portraying an  German ex-Pat managing one of the last remaining freak shows in the country.

In addition to Chiklis, other cast members confirmed to participate in “AHS:Freak Show” will be Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Kathy Bates, Jamie Brewer and Gabourey Sidibe. Both Denis O’Hare and Emma Roberts are still in talks for a return to the series, so we would not be surprised to see them back as well. The only person not mentioned was fan favorite Lily Rabe, who was not in attendance for PaleyFest, as she was in production, so there has been no word on whether she is in or out for the new season.

While not many details about the plot could be revealed, it was stated that Chiklis will be playing the father to Peters’ character and ex-husband to Bates’ character. Murphy claimed that he had pursued Chiklis for AHS for quite a while and also revealed that there will be some members of the season one and two casts that return for “Freak Show”.

The post Actor Michael Chiklis To Play A Role In American Horror Story: Freak Show also appeared on Television News.

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